New answers tagged nice
Have a look at cgroups, it should provide exactly what you need - CPU reservations (and more). I'd suggest reading controlling priority of applications using cgroups. That said, put the important yet often idle processes into group with allocated 95% of CPU and your other applications into another one with allocated 5% - you'll get (almost) all of the power ...
@muru cpulimit looks way better I think you got mixed up with nice nice ranges at least from -20 resulting favorable scheduling through 19, least favorable. The default behavior is to increase the niceness by 10 which you did. But here is the issue: a nice should not be confused with a scheduling priority, which lets applications determine the order in ...
Coincidence: I just came across the cpulimit command. It limits the CPU usage of a process (to a certain %, for example). An example from the manpage: # cpulimit -l 20 firefox Launch Firefox web browser and limit its CPU usage to 20%
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